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Showing posts from June 8, 2014

Apple Security Change Not Entirely Altruistic?

One of the changes to iOS introduced at WWDC last week was the introduction of MAC address spoofing to prevent location tracking by services using Wifi networks.

These services use a feature of the wireless network handshake to plot your course along multiple wireless networks. Your phone transmits its MAC address (in effect the serial number of your Wifi hardware) to Wifi hotspots - whether you intend to connect to them or not.  With judicious placement of Wifi transmitters and software to log where and when these messages were sent, a service can track your progress in stores, shopping centres and even through the streets.

In iOS8 Apple has configured iPhone to transmit random MAC addresses to prevent this from happening.  An excellent move to improve the lot of the average iPhone user, you may be thinking.

Probably not.

I suspect the real reason for this move is that it prevents stores and malls getting information on location from services that aren't using iBeacon and theref…

The Best Smartphone You Can Buy? Maybe

The Verge has a great piece about smartphones today. David Pierce's article 'The Best Smartphone You Can Buy' is well written and makes good arguments for the iPhone 5S as that phone.

Whilst the arguments are good, there are some areas where David has plumped for hyperbole and sweeping statements over fact. His statement 'For most people, the iPhone 5S is just the best smartphone you can buy' just isn't correct.

For example, most people want a screen larger than 4" - even the staunchest Apple policy defender accepts that the new iPhone coming later this year will have a substantially bigger screen. This in itself gives the lie to the main thrust of the article.

Pierce also contradicts himself with some of his complaints about other phones - the Moto X is udnerpowered and 'only' has a 720p screen (compared to the iPhone?) and the Samsung GS5 is cheap and plasticky (as opposed to all the woeful cases that are required to prevent damage to the iPhone…

Samsung's Very Strange World Cup Movie

Samsung isn't an official World Cup supplier - that honour falls to Sony - nonetheless the events of the next month couldn't pass unnoticed. So here is the first half of Samsung's human vs aliens World Cup match, with Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney et al (or at least virtual versions of them) taking on an alien team to save the world.

It's a pretty bizarre thing I have to say. See what you think:

Uber v The Taxi: Disruption In Its Purest Form

Uber's business model looks pretty good. Provide you with an easy and convenient way of using your smartphone to book a cab, wherever you are. In effect Uber takes the role of the Minicab office and despatcher and gives control to its customers. Know that a cab is on its way and how long it's going to take to reach you. Know that the smartphone-toting cabbie is just a quick Google Maps search away from taking you to any destination. And Uber rakes in a tidy sum with each journey made.

It's exactly the sort of service all Londoners have been crying out for. Except the competition, of course, who face the bleak prospect of adapting or dying. Evolution was ever so.

Some cabbies aren't taking things lying down though. In London, drivers of licensed Hackney carriages - the London Black Cab to you - will be protesting about the challenge that Uber offers them. The argument the cabbies make is that Uber isn't a Mini Cab service because the driver's smartphone app op…

The Cloud Is Great Until It Isn't There Any More

I recently wrote about the importance of maintaining backups off-site, which for most home users means putting things into the cloud. And whilst the cloud is great for this redundant copy of your data, how about those cloud services where they are your primary storage point?

In recent days a number of cloud services have come under a co-ordinated distributed denial of service attack - or DDOS for short. In this scenario an attacker will use a number of machines (large numbers, usually controlled through a piece of software installed on the machine without the owners knowledge) to flood the victim's servers by initiating multiple false network connections. Ultimately the service is unable to respond to genuine network requests and the site appears to go dark.

When this happens to a web store or news site it's inconvenient to the user but no more. However if it's a cloud service that you use and suddenly can't access information from it can get very unpleasant very qui…

Keynote Putdowns - It's Not The Done Thing

One feature of Apple's keynotes that has always grated has been the trash talking of the competition. Especially as the recent patent trials with Samsung have exposed how Apple doesn't like receiving the same sort of treatment from its rivals.

Unfortunately this tradition has continued in the Tim Cook era. WWDC saw swipes at both Microsoft and Google for updates. Perhaps I don't like it because in Britain it's considered poor form to use negative advertising to promote a product against a rival. More so when you're skewing the truth using dodgy statistics.

For example Cook presented a slide which demonstrated the difference in take up of Mac OS X 10.9 against Windows 8.

The numbers look good for Apple - 51% adoption for OS X against 14% for Windows 8. Sounds great? Well we're not really comparing Apples to erm, Apples are we Tim? OS X Mavericks is a free update, whilst Windows 8 is a relatively expensive one. Would you expect anything different? In fact if you …

Apple Video Highlights Yosemite Look and Feel Changes

Apple's video highlighting the new look and feel being introduced with OS X Yosemite has been made widely available today.

The new system font, different iconography in applications and changes to Finder windows can all be seen. It's a evolutionary change that doesn't depart far from the look and feel of OS X when it was originally launched in 2000.

There's no hint that Apple is planning to further merge OS X and iOS to produce the sort of hybrid device that Windows 8 has popularised - or at least none of the changes suggest that making touch interaction easier were on the agenda.

The changes are discrete enough that they don't leap out at you, yet certainly seem to freshen the look of OS X.

F1: Perez/Massa Incident Needs Further Sanction

Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix finished under a yellow flag after an enormous accident between Force India's Sergio Perez and Williams' Felipe Massa. The accident occurred less than a lap from the end of the race and cost both teams heavily. The drivers were both okay, however the enormous impacts sustained (up to 27G) meant that both drivers were hospitalised.

After reviewing the incident the stewards found that Sergio Perez had illegally changed line under braking and penalised the Mexican five places on the grid for the next race. This punishment didn't even begin to fit the crime. Massa was indignant after the race, claiming that Perez had laughed at him whilst the two were in the medical centre. Subsequent tweets from Perez and his team suggest that they don't understand why they have been penalised.

This was a 300km/h approach into a corner with grandstands on the outside of turn two. Given the way that we have seen cars get airborne in these kinds of incident…

Foyles: The King is Dead, Long Live The King

I was shocked to hear that Foyles is closing the doors on its amazing Charing Cross bookshop and  only marginally pacified by the news that it is opening a new one a few hundred yards down the road.

Foyles was an independent bookshop, perhaps the largest, but certainly the one that most typified the experience of books in my youth. I remember well working my way through the shelves and shelves of books - some that looked like they hadn't been disturbed for decades.

Of course I wasn't just there to browse - my mother, refused to buy us birthday cards on principle. Instead we got to choose a book and had our birthday wishes inscribed in there instead. The books were always selected from Foyles, between that and the gratefully received book tokens from distant relatives meant that we were able to return to further browse the treasure troves shortly after. The same rules applied at Christmas.

The joy of Foyles was in the finding of some treasure that you never knew you wanted, or…

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini - Maybe You Don't Need That Big-ass Phone After All

Flagship phones are getting bigger and bigger. Which means that you get better screens, bigger batteries and higher specs. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing though. Those faster processors are required to move all those extra pixels about. The bigger batteries to power the bigger screens and faster processers.

The S4 Mini might just be a touch of common sense after all that excess. Like coming home to your apartment after a wild night of clubbing.

At 'just' 4.3" the S4 Mini's screen is dwarfed by the 5"+ screens that have become the norm. Yet even so, it manages to be handily bigger than the screen in the iPhone. That its dimensions are a straight match for the iPhone 5c shows that Samsung have done an excellent job of packaging the S4 Mini.

I'll come back to that comparison shortly.

The S4 Mini is pocket friendly in a way that the S5, Z2 and One M8 will never be. It manages to be as fluid as those more powerful phones, despite 'onl…